PIBBS boasts stellar new class of students

Stem cell researcher
(Photo courtesy of USC)

Lured to USC by the Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS) — the gateway into PhD programs in biomedical and biological sciences — 30 new PhD students will call the Health Sciences Campus home this fall as they begin working towards their biomedical doctoral degrees.

PIBBS Director Ite Laird-Offringa said the program received 345 applications, with selected incoming students coming from diverse backgrounds and six countries. Students hail from California universities, including Berkeley and UCLA, and from across the nation, including University of Maine, University of Tennessee, Ohio State University, NYU and Emory University.

Peggy Farnham, associate dean of graduate affairs, said she is extremely pleased with this year’s recruits, which she called “top-notch students who will truly contribute to our research environment while getting superb training in the biomedical sciences.”

PIBBS students spend their first year rotating through research laboratories while taking a core curriculum. After the first year, students select a PhD degree-granting program and laboratory. This incoming class will be the first cohort to take advantage of novel educational innovations, including the establishment of four PhD programs: cancer biology and genomics; development, stem cell, and regenerative biology; molecular structure and signaling: and medical biology.

As part of the program, students prepare an F31 grant proposal, which Laird-Offringa described as a “win-win-win situation [because] if the grants get funded, not only will this bring more research dollars to USC, it will enhance the prestige of our students and document their ability to acquire their own funding while preparing them for their future.”

For more information about PIBBS, visit